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Founding Farmers

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There are countless”must-see” attractions that District locals often recommend to the city’s tens of thousands of visitors each year.

From the gates of the iconic home of the President of the United States to the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, or from the historic hallways of the Willard Intercontinental Hotel to the bustling nightlife and authentic cuisine of the U Street corridor, there’s a surprise on every street corner in “This Town.”

Unsurprisingly, also mentioned among these recommendations is another popular DC staple that has treated natives and travelers alike to unique farm-to-table cuisine since 2005: the co-op owned restaurant, Founding Farmers.

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Founded by a handful of hard-working North Dakota Farmers Union (NDFU) members who valued family, quality ingredients, and farm to table fare, with the help of a couple industry experts, these entrepreneurs established their first restaurant in the shining city on the hill – a fitting location for such a venture.

Even in the midst of a debilitating recession, more than 40,000 NDFU farmers bought a share in Founding Farmers, which has proven to be one of the most well-known, innovative, and successful restaurants in the nation’s Capitol.

While they occasionally purchase individual products from the corporate supply chain – as most restaurants do – Founding Farmers prides itself on making the best possible food, completely from scratch, in their kitchen every day. From artisanal bread, to fresh pressed juices, to the 1960’s style fountain sodas, everything – and we mean everything – is made in-house. Even the tap water they provide to their patrons is triple filtered (and is the same water the occupants of the White House enjoy on a daily basis).

A pre prohibition style bar serves up potent elixirs (and it word on the street is that it’s considered a prestigious honor to become a bartender at Founding Farmers). Even after rigorous training and skill assessments, only the chosen few can learn the tricks and trades of the restaurants’ secret cocktail recipes.

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We were lucky enough to sip on the refreshing and floral undertones of the “Farmers Fizz,” that contained ford’s gin, st. Germain elderflower, organge bitters, and prosecco, along with the very impressive “Improved Mai Tai” that included avua prata cachaca (a lush and crisp spirit with subtle floral notes), Blackwell rum, orgeat, lime, Curaçao, and tiki bitters. Each hand-crafted cocktail takes at least 15 minutes to whip up, but their explosive taste makes the wait more than worth it.

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To accompany our forthcoming feast, our accommodating waitress served us a heaping glass of both the hibiscus and orange craft sodas, which also come in grapefruit, lemon lime, ginger, vanilla, and seasonal flavors.Founding Farmers11

For starter dishes, we were recommended the “Bacon Lollies” which came served on individual kabob sticks and generously glazed with cinnamon and maple syrup, and the “Mint Watermelon” salad.

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Coated with a light rice vinegar and dusted with freshly cracked sea salt, the dish was fruity and light with a salty kick.Founding Farmers5

For our first main course, we chose the Meat Loaf {a tender and lightly pink combination of ground beef and veal} with sides of light and fluffy red mashed potatoes and pearl pasta with zucchini, raisins, and pine nuts.Founding Farmers9

For the second main course, we decided on (at the suggestion of our waitress) the Glazed cedar plank salmon, paired with sides of  green beans with pieces of crystalized candied lemon and the mashed fingerling red potatoes.

While some of our previous experiences with cedar planked salmon had left us with a “fishy” taste in our mouths (not a connotation used to describe the way fish is supposed to taste) this salmon filet was smothered in a thick and pleasantly sweet apricot glaze. The tender and flaky meat was easily sliced with a fork. It melted in our mouths like butter, and left a slight smokey sensation on our tongues long after each bite.Founding Farmers1

Towards the end of our meal, we were treated to giant slices of Blue Ribbon apple pie and triple layer chocolate mousse cake, both presented al a mode topped with house-churned vanilla bean and raspberry ice creams, respectively. The devil’s food cake was extremely moist and tasted fresh out of the kitchen. The apple pie contained giant slices of soft, cinnamon-coated apples that were housed in a thick crust painted in granulated sugar.Founding Farmers7

When comparing the cost to benefit ratio at other restaurants that serve similar desserts, patrons certainly get the best bang for their buck with Founding Farmers’ sweet slices of heaven. At seven dollars a slice, they won’t break the bank (but we can’t promise it won’t add an extra notch to the ole’ belt buckle!)

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For our readers who live outside the beltway that are interested in a dining experience with Founding Farmers, new locations have opened up in Potomac, Maryland, and Tysons, Virginia. Farmers Fishers Bakers – a sister restaurant of Founding Farmers and also owned by the more than 40,000 family farmers of NDFU – is located just down the street from in Georgetown.

Overall, our experience with Founding Farmers was pleasant, while the food was wholesome and flavorful. Fitting for foodies and families alike, we are certain that even the pickiest of pallets will find something to love at this farm-to-table experience.

When you stop by, be sure to tell them the East Coast Contessas sent you.

Pro tip for our fellow bloggers: When it came time for us to receive our bill, there was a bit of miscommunication between the managers and the wait staff. While this was quickly and professionally resolved without further question, to avoid any awkward confusion, we recommend pinning down the details with the restaurants contacts prior to an on-site visit.

23 Comments
  1. Leah says

    Looks like you had a lovely meal! I will be adding this to our list for visiting next year!

  2. GlamKaren says

    From the “Farmers Fizz” to the meatloaf… this all looks delish and amazing! What a place to be and dine and enjoy!
    Karen | GlamKaren.com

  3. Cynthia @craftoflaughter says

    That food looks incredible! I love salmon and can only imagine how wonderful that apricot glaze tastes. The meat loaf dish looks amazing, as do the cocktails!

  4. Katherine Turro says

    This looks so delicious! I’ll definitely have to check this out next time I’m in DC.

  5. Lauren Vavala says

    Ohhh I want to try this! We are planning a DC trip this fall!

  6. Roxanne says

    Everything looks so delicious, but those cocktails are stunning! And the desserts have my mouth watering. 🙂

  7. afrugaldesteny says

    It all looks so good! I like the bacon lollies… haha! What a concept!

  8. Rachel Catherine says

    This looks amazing! The cocktails are beautiful. I will have to add this to the list the next time we are in DC.

  9. Maggie Unzueta says

    I’m so glad I found your site. I’m going to DC in a couple of days, and we’re trying to decide where to eat. We can’t eat just anywhere because we have a 9-year-old picky palate tagging along. We’re staying in Adams Morgan. If you have any suggestions for me, please email me. I’ll poke around your blog and see what I can find. Thanks!

  10. Kim says

    All I need is the cocktails & desert! They look divine.

  11. Ana De Jesus says

    The hisbicus and orange craft soda looks and sounds delicious plus I love the look of the chocolate cake. Seven pounds is quite expensive for cake but I think it would be worth it.

  12. Amanda Love says

    The food looks really good and fresh as well. And it would be awesome to take the family here! Everything looks delightful and the dishes are perfect for the summer heat.

  13. I would love to have one of those Grapefruit Sodas. My husband is eyeballing that salmon. This sounds like a restaurant I definitely need to visit soon.

  14. alexandria says

    That salmon looks unbelievable. I love the concept of farm to table. You are lucky to be able to taste such delicious food!

  15. toughcookiemommy says

    That salmon dish is making my mouth water. The portions are so big and the food looks so delicious at this restaurant.

  16. Mandy says

    Oh this looks amazing!! I love my salmon and this one looks delicious.

  17. rosepetalsinthesea says

    I love farm-to-table restaurants! I wish there were more restaurants like this in my area. Everything that you featured looks so scrumptious, especially the cake! – HilLesha

  18. Fashionable Librarian says

    I love coops…this is a great way to spend your money and the fact that the food looks great is an added bonus

  19. Jill Conyers (@jillconyers) says

    All of the food looks delicious. I suddenly have a craving for chocolate cake. Do they deliver?

  20. Brittany says

    Wow the food and drinks look absolutely amazing. If I’m ever in the DC area I really need to make sure I get to visit this unique coop – thanks so much for sharing!

  21. Debra says

    I love restaurants that are all about farm to table. This sounds like it is absolutely incredible!

  22. CourtneyLynne says

    Omg everything about this restaurant looks amazing!!!!! I definitely need to give this place a try. Yummy!

  23. Megan McCoig says

    Never heard of this restaurant before, the food sure does looks incredible. Looks like you had a fab time there to 🙂

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